I know, I'm judging myself too. But in the theme of trying to stay away from judgment, I'm going to move on from those thoughts.
I never thought in a million years I would jump on this brand ambassador band wagon. Sure, it seemed cool when the concept was first introduced. I mean, who wouldn't want to be paid by companies or given free products, just by posting to social media? To me, it honestly didn't seem like a terrible gig.
But then, almost overnight, everyone and their mom became an ambassador for something. Skin products. Clothing lines. Protein powders. Vitamins. Leggings. Detox teas. Makeup. You name it, there's probably an ambassador for it somewhere.
I've often been asked the question of why I started a blog. The concept of serious blogging and bloggers was already pretty popular. And the market was already starting to be over-saturated. I've been asked if I had intentions of gaining some kind of success or status. And honestly. No. Not even a little. I never started this blog to somehow become an influencer. I started it to share, open dialogue, and create conversations about mental health.If people like it and can resonate with it and want to engage, great! But if they don't, blogging in this manner is extremely therapeutic, so win for me again. And I mean, honestly, if I did want social media fame or sponsorships, I wouldn't have picked mental health as the subject. Let's be real, that's not sexy enough for today's markets. Besides, I don't think the world needs yet another take on "What to Get your Boyfriend for Christmas", or "What's on my Bar Cart", or "How to Wear These Cute (but stupidly expensive) Shoes!" types of blogs.
So how did I get here?
Why now, am I "giving" in and jumping on the band wagon?
Well, for starters, I actually found a company I really, really like.
Let's go back a few months. An acquaintance/classmate from college posted about being a brand ambassador for a fitness clothing company called Kora. I remembered being happy for her, as she's someone I truly admire and respect. I skimmed the caption, double tapped, and kept scrolling.
Per Instagram usual, right?
Because of all the cool (and kind of creepy) algorithms, more sponsored ads from Kora kept popping up on my feed. I always liked the sponsored posts. And I'm not sure why really, but one day I liked their actual account. Long story short, a few weeks later, an add from Kora looking for ambassadors popped up on my feed. I was curious, so I followed the link and learned the gist. And then I went to their actual website to read about the company and it's mission.
"Be Your Best." Their tagline had me from the start.
In their own words, their mission says:
"We exist to help our customers unlock the best versions of themselves in and out of the gym. We provide the athletic gear necessary to keep athletes motivated, and with every purchase an opportunity to give to someone in need."
I was mainly intrigued by the last part. Each purchase is an opportunity to give to someone in need. I kept scrolling and learned that Kora has partnered with 4 different charities:
2. Action Against Hunger
3. Operation Underground Railroad
4. Anxiety and Depression Association of America
I was sold. Instantly. I kept reading and learned that with each purchase, a percentage of the cost of each item will go to the charity of your choice. Do I care about mental health? Uh, duh. Do I want to help give clean water and enough food to those in need? Double check. Do I want to help those suffering from sex trafficking? Of course. You get the picture. I applied later that day, but honestly, didn't expect much.
For part of the application, you had to share how you were living their tagline of "Being Your Best". I reflected on the words and thought again about what fitness and health even means to me in the first place. I guess one of the reasons I feel so passionate about nutrition and fitness is because I used to let them dictate my life in a very negative way. I had such a terrible relationship with my body, what I fueled it with (or rather what I didn't fuel it with), and punishing it with excessive exercise. When I finally said yes to and embraced getting help, I realized how awful I had treated myself during disordered time. And I kind of became afraid of health and fitness. Worried that I could slip and wind up in the same hole I was starting in. Or worse.
At the time of my breakdown, I had already begun shifting my thought patterns in regards to eating and food. The year before my mental breakdown, I began experimenting with different diet lifestyles. The main thing I wanted was to find a sustainable way of eating. Where I could eat freely and dismiss guilt, fear, and judgement. I knew I would ultimately become vegetarian (didn't think I could do veggan sustainably at the time). But I weaned myself off slowly. I truly wanted to see how my body changed and reacted to specific foods. And I wanted to find a place where I felt both energized and actually happy and satisfied.
And we all know where that got me. (For those of you who are new here, I'm veggan - a vegan who sometimes eats sustainably sourced, farm fresh eggs).
Fitness was a little harder to find a balance with. I've always been one of those "weirdos" who likes to work out. I love a good sweat session (and I sweat and embarrassing amount). I love trying new things and reaching goals. I see the gym as a place to improve, to continually use smaller goals to reach bigger ones. It's one of the only things that doesn't overwhelm me or give me anxiety. But it's really hard to figure out how to approach something that you actually enjoy, but behind the scenes abuse to the point of being unhealthy. I started by actually taking rest days. Then I gave up two a days. And finally, I stopped hitting up cardio machines anytime I felt guilt in regards to food (this forced me to practice mindful/intuitive eating).
I think it's been in the last two years that I've really hit my sweet spot with working out. I'm getting good at listening to my body. I run on days I don't have the energy to lift. On days I can't be bothered with cardio, I find motivation in lifting. I have chill days were I only do yoga or pilates. Greg and I are avid hikers so we get out to walk and hike when we can. I'm no longer doing crossfit, but rather train with a personal trainer once or twice a week. I do plyometrics at home on days I'm highly motivated. I recently got done with my (very brief, but very real) professional dance gig. So during that time, all I was really doing was dancing and practicing yoga at night. I'm not forcing or pushing anything. I feel at peace with it. And I'm really proud to no longer be the girl, wasting hours punishing herself simply for existing the way she was.
I know I'm not the only one who has struggled in this way. And I know that my case isn't special or different by any means. Again, all I want to do is share so that others know that they can share too. No matter what they are struggling with, someone out there is struggling too. And that's why I'm trying to be so vulnerable with ALL of my s***. That it's okay not to be okay. That we all struggle and sometimes life really sucks and maybe we make a poor choice along the line but it's okay. We are all only human. And we are all only trying our best.
Be Your Best
And with that, I'm so excited to share that I'm a brand ambassador for Kora. Don't worry. I'm not going to be shoving it in your face with every post. And when I do post, it won't be to try and sell you something. You are your own person who can choose their own path. I don't want to actually influence you. Well, hold on, I want to influence you to cultivate self-love. And to be kinder and gentler on yourself. And to shift towards hope. But I don't want to influence you with the makeup products, tea choices, and fitness gear I use.
Instead, I just want you know it's an option. that if you're looking for new pair of leggings. Or you aren't sure what to get your health inclined friend for their birthday (yes, Kora has clothing for those that identify with either gender). And you'd like to do some good at the same time. If you're interested in the brand please click here. For 15% off you can use the code KeleGal15. And if you aren't, that's totally fine too! Zero judgement!
So yea, don't worry, this is still going to be a blog in regards to mental health, authentic stories, real struggles, coping, and inspiration. Health and fitness again is just something that I'm really passionate about and continually growing in because I have been on both ends of the spectrum with it. Besides, I would be the worst social media influencer ever. And I don't think my anxiety could handle the scrutiny of being an actual influencer. I'm cool existing in this space, as is.